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‘Get on the team or shut up’: How Trump created an army of GOP enforcers

From the earliest days of his presidency Donald Trump and his political team worked to re-engineer the infrastructure of the Republican Party, installing allies in top leadership posts in key states.

The effect has been dramatic — and continues to reverberate nearly six months after he left office.

In Oklahoma, the newly installed party chair is endorsing a primary challenge to GOP Sen. James Lankford, the home state incumbent who crossed Trump by voting to uphold results of the November election. In Michigan, the state party chair joked about assassinating two Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump. Arizona’s state chair accused Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of nothing less than killing people by restricting the use of hydroxychloroquine, a Trump obsession, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

There and elsewhere, state party chairs have been at the center of a raft of resolutions to censure or rebuke GOP lawmakers deemed insufficiently loyal to Trump.

In red states, blue states and swing states, these leaders — nearly all of whom were elected during Trump’s presidency or right after — are redefining the traditional role of the state party chair. They are emerging not just as guardians of the former president’s political legacy, but as chief enforcers of Trumpism within the GOP.

It figures to be a boon for him if he runs for another term in 2024, but also carries the risk of tying the party’s fortunes too closely to an ex-president whose political brand is toxic to many voters.

“It’s purity tests, 100 percent,” said Landon Brown, a Republican state lawmaker from Wyoming whose state party chair, Frank Eathorne, earned Trump’s public endorsement for reelection this year after the state party censured Rep. Liz Cheney for her vote to impeach Trump. “When it comes to the party, what I have started seeing, especially in the past four to five years … it’s much more a hard-line, defined, ‘If you don’t vote this way, you’re not a Republican.’”

Open warring by state party chairs against elected officials was once rare, and disagreements were typically kept discreet in the interest of party unity. Top party leaders were tasked with party-building efforts and fundraising, and were accustomed to showing deference to home state senators and governors, or working assiduously to advance their political interests.

But Trump’s penchant for intra-party conflict and demands for absolute loyalty changed the equation. As president-elect, he personally intervened in an effort to oust an Ohio state chair who had been critical of him. In endorsing Eathorne’s reelection in April, Trump cited Eathorne’s role in censuring Cheney. In his March endorsement of David Shafer, the Georgia party chair, Trump said, “No one in Georgia fought harder for me than David!”

Shafer had gone so far as to join a lawsuit challenging the November election results, litigating against his own state’s Republican chief election officer. The state party formally rebuked Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, at its convention last month.

Between Trump’s still-domineering hand on the party and a GOP base that remains intensely loyal to the former president, the imperative for state party chairs is to intertwine his interests with that of the party — fearful that failing to do so may alienate supporters. This is despite Trump’s failure to win a second term and the loss of Republican majorities in Congress during his watch.

“The party’s been taken over by people who have been elected since he became the president who in effect said, ‘Get on the team or shut up,’” said Allen Weh, a former chair of the New Mexico Republican Party and a Trump ally.

That dynamic has served to elevate the importance of party chairs as political actors — in some cases rivaling those who are actually on the ballot. The chairs have significant latitude in their states — from candidate recruitment, to deciding which candidates to invite to plum speaking engagements, to how to allocate money for voter registration and other programs. Several state Republican parties canceled their presidential nominating contests entirely in 2020, insulating Trump from long-shot challengers, including in South Carolina. There, the state’s former two-term governor, Mark Sanford, could not even get a hearing.

Bill Weld, a former two-term Massachusetts governor who ran for president in 2020, also hit a wall in his home state. The state party changed the way it awarded delegates to presidential candidates to help ensure that Trump in 2020 would not lose even a single delegate to the state’s former governor, who won reelection in a landslide in the 1990s.

Jim Lyons, the state party’s pro-Trump chair, has clashed bitterly with moderate GOP Gov. Charlie Baker, who’s made clear he’s no fan of Trump. Baker — one of the nation’s most popular governors — has not announced his intentions for 2022 but a Lyons ally and former Trump campaign co-chair in Massachusetts, Geoff Diehl, has already announced his intention to run for governor.

John Thomas, a Republican strategist who works on House campaigns across the country, said the pro-Trump disposition of the vast majority of state party chairs across the country will likely have a “direct impact” on the party’s candidate recruitment and resource allocation ahead of the midterm elections.

“Party chairs, that’s one of their main jobs to recruit candidates, so oftentimes party chairs will recruit them in their image or ideological worldview,” Thomas said, “So I think it’s safe to say, like in Oklahoma, they’re not going to be recruiting candidates that look like [Utah Sen.] Mitt Romney.”

In addition, he said, “Party chairs can decide where to invest in things like voter registration and all that. So, if they have a particular incumbent they don’t like that doesn’t line up with the Trump world view, they can penalize incumbents and potential challengers as well.”

Ultimately, the biggest beneficiary of the party’s shifting composition may be Trump himself, if he runs for another term in 2024. The chair of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, pledged neutrality when she was reelected to her post following Trump’s defeat. But it’s a different story outside Washington.

“It’s a huge advantage to have a network of support of state party chairs,” said Matt Moore, former chair of the South Carolina Republican Party. “State party chairs have huge megaphones. They choose annual dinner speakers, who gets highlighted in such small things as weekly newsletters. They have a lot of power.”

Drew McKissick, the current South Carolina GOP chair, who was endorsed for re-election this year by Trump not once or twice, but three times, said that Trump “is certainly in a position, because of his experience and the new people and manpower that he brought into the party, to have an incredible number of people support him.”

McKissick said, “He understands the importance of the actual party structure.”

The pro-Trump constellation of GOP state party chairs largely mirrors the sentiment of a Republican electorate that remains overwhelmingly loyal to Trump. And fervent support for the president benefited parties across the country, with a surge in participation at the local level. Georgia Republicans saw record crowds at local organizing meetings earlier this year, with many of the newcomers excited about Trump and furious at the results of the election. The number of activists and volunteers signed up with local parties in South Carolina has roughly doubled since McKissick was first elected in 2017, he said, numbering about 10,000 today.

Though GOP registration in Massachusetts is dwindling, Lyons said Trump has galvanized Republicans at the grassroots level.

At the local level, scores of activists who run local GOP operations have held district or county posts since long before Trump was elected. That’s led some chairs to say the idea that the party has changed dramatically under Trump is overblown. Jennifer Carnahan, the chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, said the party at its core remains largely unchanged since before Trump was elected. Though Trump did “bring new people” into the party, she said, “A lot of these people have been around for decades, right? … I would say the core heart of the Minnesota GOP activist base, it’s largely these real committed individuals that just have a love for our party, our values.”

But public criticism of Trump is almost unheard of at any level within the ranks of state party leadership — and largely isn’t tolerated within a party operation Trump has spent more than four years molding. The attention the chair of the Oklahoma GOP, John Bennett, is now getting for supporting a primary challenge to U.S. Sen. James Lankford is only the most recent example.

In Alaska over the weekend, state party officials endorsed a primary challenge to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has been critical of Trump. Before that, it was Kelli Ward, the bombastic state party chair, undermining Ducey in Arizona. Eathorne, the Wyoming party chair, was in Washington the day of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, though he said he participated only in peaceful protests.

Brown, the Wyoming state lawmaker, objected to the state party’s censure of Cheney, and he called for Eathorne to resign after the state party chair floated the idea of secession earlier this year.

“I will not attend state party meetings while he is still in office,” Brown said. “It’s an echo chamber in our state party.”

Bitcoin price tanks after cryptic ‘break up’ post by Elon Musk – 'death cross' fears

Bitcoin nosedived by several percent following the eccentric billionaire’s latest social media post, which suggested he was cutting off ties to the virtual coin. On Friday morning, Mr Musk posted a meme which implied he was going through a ‘break up’ with Bitcoin.

The meme depicted a couple breaking up over excessive quoting of Linkin Park lyrics.

Mr Musk shared the meme with the caption: “#Bitcoin” and an emoji depicting a broken heart.

Bitcoin tanked from this week’s price high of $ 39,000 to a little under $ 36,000 in a matter of hours afterwards.

Ethereum and Dogecoin also took a dive as a result of Mr Musk’s musings.

Ethereum dropped from $ 2,866 to $ 2,566 in a similar pattern to its main rival, Bitcoin, with the popular coins mimicking each other in price drops and surges.

Similarly, Dogecoin’s price followed suit with drops and surges but had more volatile reactions.

The recent price drop follows a warning from a prominent cryptocurrency trader who predicted the world’s most popular virtual coin could be plunging towards a “death cross”.

Crypto trading and analyst company, Rekt Capital, said the economic death knell event could occur by the middle of this month unless Bitcoin’s price increases soon.

READ MORE: ‘People are completely unaware’ they can claim thousands in tax relief

“The Death Cross occurs with some lag. So by the time it happens – a lot of downside will have already happened.”

Now looking at current data, they said: “BTC is potentially on the cusp of a new Death Cross soon.

“If BTC doesn’t increase in its price soon and the EMAs [exponential moving averages] continue at the same current pace…The Death Cross could happen sooner in mid-June 2021.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Finance Feed

‘Wake up!’ Germany wants to break up UK and damage economy, warns ex-diplomat

And Adrian Hill said the Government should stop pandering to Brussels over Northern Ireland, pull the plug on the trade deal signed in December and “walk away” – while he also backed a pledge by Express.co.uk readers to boycott EU products. Mr Hill, a former officer in the Royal Engineers who among other diplomatic posts worked as a member of the Channel Tunnel team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the COBRA Committee of the Cabinet Office, was speaking after Andreas Michaelis, Germany’s ambassador to Britain, talked up the possibility of a stronger bilateral agreement with a country he suggested was an ideal partner for a “deep alliance”.

Similarly, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, speaking during his recent trip to the UK for the G7 summit in Cornwall, suggested his country and the UK needed to focus on their “common interests”.

Meanwhile the UK and Italy have traditionally worked closely in the area of defence, with Leonardo and BAE Systems among the companies collaborating on Tempest, sixth-generation fighter project.

However, Mr Hill said the Government should be wary of such international alliances.

He told Express.co.uk: “When will these schoolboys wake up to reality?

“The German Army’s strategic plan is more than clear – NATO is breaking up and so is the EU.

“Germany must bind the eurozone countries around her to preserve the economy and surrounding export markets.

READ MORE: Macron to seize power as Merkel finally steps down

“Boris and his mates may not be able to see that but, take it from me, we voters can.”

Addressing the UK’s future relationship with the EU, Mr Hill, a regular contributor to the Briefings for Britain website, said: “We are out, no longer liable for anything save the Eurocrats pension fund.

“We should triple our defence budget and stop kowtowing to the EU.

“For a start we could take the advice of the lawyer star chamber and insist on sorting out the Northern Ireland mess and the fishing. “

Mr Hill added: “If the EU refuses, scrap the trade deal and refuse to pay the EU a penny. There’s nothing they could do, frankly.

“The good old British public have started boycotting EU products.

“If I were Boris – and I’ve met him and liked him – I would pay a lot more attention to what the ordinary Brit thinks of all this than a bunch of pussyfooters in Westminster and Whitehall.”

Speaking last month French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Drian said: “On many issues, we have congruent views, shared analysis or common interests.

“We are neighbours. We cannot sit there immobile staring at one another.”

Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor raised eyebrows in 2017 when she said of the USA and the UK: “The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over.

“I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.

“We have to know that we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

Gary Lineker weighs in on Brexit fishing row with France: ‘Warmongering nonsense grow up!’

The ardent Remainer and Match of the Day host has called on tensions to be diffused and demanded an end to “warmongering nonsense”. The Prime Minister deployed two Royal Navy vessels to the region on Wednesday after angry French fishermen threatened to blockade the port of St Helier.

French President Emmanuel Macron dispatched two police patrol boats to the contested waters as the threat of warfare surged.

On Thursday morning, local maritime groups reported more than 50 French fishing vessels had descended to the Jersey port, with some crew members armed with flares.

Writing on Twitter this afternoon, Mr Lineker said: “Any chance of growing up, behaving like responsible, decent human beings and stop this warmongering nonsense?”

In an earlier post, the retired England international made a light-hearted remark about the ongoing dispute between London and Paris.

He wrote: “Thoughts are with fish at this difficult time.”

The row between the UK and France centres on new fishing arrangements in Jersey, which were agreed as part of the Brexit trade deal in December.

Last Friday, the British overseas territory said French boats would need to obtain licences to carry on landing around the island – located just 14 miles off the coast of northern France.

They would also be subject to time limits and the arrangements triggered widespread protests from the French fishing communities at the Jersey port.

Up to 60 French vessels are understood to have taken part in the demonstration this morning, with reports of one Jersey boat being rammed into.

Josh Dearing, who owns The Jersey Catch fishing company, said the appearance of French boats had been “like an invasion”

He added: “There were probably about 60 boats.

“There were a few hand-held flares and smoke flares going off and apparently a few maybe bangers and stuff going off from the French.”

Dimitri Rogoff, who heads a group of Normandy fishermen, insisted the vessels were not seeking to blockade the port and played down the incident.

He said: “This isn’t an act of war. It’s an act of protest.”

READ MORE: Royal Family LIVE: Queen ignores Megxit feud to come to Meghan’s aid

The Jersey Government said it has held a constructive meeting” with French fishermen this evening and have agreed to create a new forum to improve dialogue between the two sides.

Jersey’s Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondre said: “The French fishermen protested peacefully and respectfully, and were able to set out their concerns directly to Government representatives.

“We recognise that there have been challenges in the implementation of the new trade agreement.

“Speaking directly to the fishermen has enabled both parties to better understand how those challenges will be addressed, and we are proposing the establishment of a forum which will enable the Government of Jersey to continue to engage with all fishermen in the region openly and constructively.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

S Club 7’s Jo O’Meara raises hopes for reunion saying she ‘would be up’ for it

Author: Mary Gallagher
This post originally appeared on Showbiz – The Scottish Sun

S CLUB 7’s Jo O’Meara has raised hopes of a reunion and said she “would be up for it”.

The cheesy British group – which disbanded in the early naughties – are waiting for the right time to Bring It All Back.

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S Club 7 are in talks to reunite and record their first new music in 20 yearsCredit: Alamy

Jo has said the group – including Bradley McIntosh, Hannah Spearritt, Jon Lee, Paul Cattermole, Rachel Stevens and Tina Barrett – are all on good terms and are in talks to hit the studio.

Asked by Bobby Norris and Stephen Leng on FUBAR Radio about a reunion, the Reach singer said: “I think I’d be up for it. Yeah. When the time, if the timing’s right. Because obviously getting seven diaries together to sort of like, it’s tough because you know, few of us have got children and people are married and got other careers going on.

“So timing is always a big, massive, it has a big part to play in it. Definitely. But you never know, could be reaching again one day.”

However, Jo insisted they don’t have an “S Club WhatsApp group” where they talk about reuniting.

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Tina insists the reunion won’t be awkward despite Hannah and Paul’s break-upCredit: Getty

She added: “There’s not an S Club WhatsApp group. It would be going like, ‘Ping, ping ping’ all the time. But do you know what? There’s no, there’s nothing set in stone. There’s been no meetings or anything like that. I mean I’d say, I’d never say never to it. You just, you never know what’s around the corner. But who knows, that’s all I’m saying.”

However Jo is working on her solo comeback after she released her debut solo album Relentless back in 2005.

When asked what made her return to music now, she said: “It’s now or never, really. Because I’m sort of like, getting older. And also if I hadn’t took the opportunity and done it, I would have been just thinking to myself, ‘Oh, I wonder if I’d given it a go, what might’ve been’.

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Jo released an album in 2005Credit: Alamy

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The singer on This Morning in 2018Credit: Rex Features

“And I just thought, ‘You just got to go for opportunities when they’re handed to you’. So I’ve just gone for it. And I’m so pleased I did because I feel so good at the minute. I’m feeling very positive.

“I mean, obviously I’m so excited because I think to get a record deal, like it’s really quite lucky, really. But I am, I’m very excited, but I am nervous, yeah. Because it’s been 16 years since I put my first solo album out there. It’s a long time.”

Elon Musk Trolls Jeff Bezos & Says He ‘Can’t Get It Up’ Amid Battle Over Space Contract

Author: Jade Boren
This post originally appeared on Hollywood Life

Jeff Bezos is not happy that Elon Musk’s rival space company won a $ 2.9 billion contract to build a moon lander for NASA. Elon couldn’t resist dissing his competitor.

The multi-billionaires are fighting! Elon Musk couldn’t resist poking fun at Jeff Bezos, after Elon’s SpaceX company won out over Jeff’s Blue Origin company in a bidding war over a $ 2.9 billion contract from NASA to build a moon lander for the Artemis moon program, which will allow 18 astronauts to make missions to the moon. Jeff’s Blue Origin company is now trying to appeal Elon’s victory with a 50-page protest that it filed with the federal Government Accountability Office on April 26, according to The New York Times.

After news of the protest broke on Monday, Elon put on his trolling hat at the expense of Jeff’s loss. “Can’t get it up (to orbit) lol,” the Tesla founder tweeted. Yes, the third richest person in the world used an innuendo to mock the No. 1 richest person in the world.

However, Elon’s diss was not just trying to be raunchy — it was also a jab at the fact that the rockets from Jeff’s Blue Origin company have yet to reach orbit, since Jeff founded the company in 2000. Meanwhile, SpaceX launched four astronauts for NASA on its Crew Dragon capsule on April 23, and the crew docked with the International Space Station on April 24. SpaceX launched its first astronauts into orbit in May of 2020.

Elon appeared to further mock Jeff by tweeting a screenshot of an old article from 2019. It highlighted the time the Amazon founder hosted an event to unveil Blue Origin’s moon lander and laid out his vision for “a trillion people in space, living not on moons or planets, but bucolic space colonies,” a civilization that Jeff hoped to set the foundations for with his space company, according to the NYT article.

Elon Musk founded SpaceX (short for Space Exploration Technologies) in 2002. [Shutterstock]

Blue Origin isn’t the only company protesting the fact that SpaceX will be manufacturing the lunar lander for future astronauts. Dynetics — a defense contractor based in Alabama that was also  — also filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office on April 26, per NYT. However, “NASA cannot provide further comment due to pending litigation,” a spokesperson from the space agency wrote in a statement to the newspaper.